Report: Blackpool 0-1 Stags
Mansfield Town completed a league double over Blackpool this afternoon, as a first half effort from striker Matt Green proved to be the difference on a bitterly cold afternoon at Bloomfield Road.
For 2017’s first fixture, Mansfield boss Steve Evans named all four of his new signings in the starting line-up, with goalkeeper Jake Kean, midfield duo of Joel Byrom and Ben Whiteman, and striker Yoann Arquin replacing Scott Shearer, Chris Clements, James Baxendale and Danny Rose, respectively.
Both sides appeared intent on hitting the ground running from the outset at Bloomfield Road, playing similar 4-4-2 formations.
On five minutes, the home side earned a free-kick from 20-yards, as Blackpool wideman Brad Potts was bundled over by Stags’ skipper Lee Collins while attempting a left-footed volley.
But midfielder Michael Cain’s shot from the dead-ball situation did very little to trouble Mansfield custodian Kean, and went out for a goal kick.
The visitors, on their part, forced a free-kick on the edge of the Blackpool penalty area on 12 minutes, as winger CJ Hamilton received a delicious midfield lob from Collins, only to be fouled by the oncoming Seasiders’ goalkeeper Sam Slocombe who had come flying out of his area.
However, influential midfielder Byrom’s delivery was marginally over-hit, and led to a throw-in on the far touchline.
The duel for midfield supremacy continued past the end of the first quarter, but neither team managed to take the upper hand.
Mansfield had Sheffield United loanee Whiteman to thank for keeping the scoreline goal-less on 20 minutes when he made a fine goal-line clearance to thwart right-back Kelvin Mellor’s goal-bound header from Blackpool captain Danny Pugh’s corner.
Gary Bowyer’s Blackpool threatened once more from distance, as Mellor’s low attempt on 28 minutes went inches wide of the upright.
Two minutes later though, the Stags were ahead courtesy of frontman Green.
Debutant Yoann Arquin fed the ball through for the Stags' top scorer and he steadied himself before shooting from the edge of the box, which beat Slocombe via a deflection.
Moments later, Mansfield were at it again as left-back Malvind Benning tried his luck from 35-yards, but his looping volley was comfortably held by Slocombe between the Blackpool sticks.
The Stags continued to probe for a second goal, and centre-back Krystian Pearce had an effort on 34 minutes, letting one fly from outside the 18-yard area after being teed up by Hamilton, but Slocombe was on hand to save.
The hosts then looked in vain for an equaliser on 39 minutes, as Potts’ chip from the left was nodded wide of the near post by striker Armand Gnanduillet.
The first-half finished with the Stags firmly in the box-seat, as Green’s 11th goal of the season separated the sides on a chilly Monday afternoon at Bloomfield Road.
The close battle between the sides resumed after the change of ends, and Mansfield made the first attempt when Green’s clever pass to the left allowed Hamilton to peel off and force a corner with a deflected shot from close range.
Moments later, Pearce saw his header from Byrom’s deep free-kick fly over the crossbar for a goal kick.
Pool boss Gary Bowyer made a double change for Blackpool, as midfielder Danny Philliskirk and Gnanduillet made way for Bright Osayi-Samuel and Jamille Matt, respectively.
Although the home side tried to turn proceedings into their favour with fresh legs, the Mansfield rearguard continued to protect their lines resolutely, and the score remained 1-0 to the Stags.
With 66 minutes gone, the Seasiders called Stags’ stopper Kean into action, as the Sheffield Wednesday loanee rushed off of his line to punch clear Andy Taylor’s floated free-kick from close to the far touchline.
On 77 minutes, the Stags launched a superb attack down the middle, as 20-year-old Whiteman found forward Arquin with a long pass, and the French striker’s dipping attempt agonisingly missed the far corner of the net.
The game continued to swing back and forth, but yielded scant goal-mouth action for the remaining period, and Mansfield successfully wrapped up their ebullient display with the slender win.
Although, the home side had a late, late chance to snatch a draw but substitute Cullen sent his effort beyond the crossbar deep into stoppage time.
Stags XI: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Pearce, Howkins, Collins (C), Hamilton, Byrom (McGuire 86’), Whiteman, Green (Baxendale 89’), Arquin (D. Rose 80’)
Subs not used: Shearer, Clements, Hoban, Hurst
Blackpool XI: Slocombe, Mellor, Taylor, Robertson, Potts, Aldred, Philliskirk (Osayi-Samuel 56’), Pugh, Cain, Gnanduillet (Matt 56’), Vassell (Cullen 75’)
Subs not used: Lyness, McAlister, Aimson, Payne
Referee: Robert Jones
Attendance: 2,948 (471 away)